This post is sponsored by Italki
I’m always slightly embarrassed when I meet someone from Europe who can speak five languages fluently.
When they ask how many I can speak I mumble, only one, two if you include Strine (i.e Aussie slang).
Australia is so remote that learning languages is never a priority of our educational system or culture. We did slight fluffing with French and Japanese when I was in school, but I never got much beyond counting to ten, hello and goodbye.
Beautiful exchanges can happen when you converse with people in their own languages. I’ve had them even with the limited vocab I have when I arrive in a new country.
It’s always been on my bucket list to learn a foreign language, but I’ve never found the time to attend classes. And I’m just not into traditional schooling. I’ve been on the teaching side of it for too long and know how broken it is. Too much sitting and listening rather practicing and doing.
I tried to learn Spanish with an at home learning kit once. It was difficult to keep my motivation up as I had no teacher, nor other students to practice with. It’s kinda boring and irrelevant when you try to figure it out on your own. Although I did quickly learn how to order a bottle of red wine.
We lived in Bangkok for six months and the beauty of cultural immersion meant we picked up a fair range of vocab and phrases, which allowed us to have a deeper connection with our Thai friends and local people.
Kalyra’s mad keen on learning French and living in Paris for some time, so maybe I might join her and learn the language that way.
There are many people who, for various reasons, want to learn another language, but like me, classes are too inconvenient or expensive, they don’t have the motivation to do it with at home kits, and they have no plans to live in a foreign country.
They might want to learn the language out of interest, to keep up with new friends, old family members, or to learn some of the basics before arriving in a new country.
I wish we did this before traveling to China.
I’ll never forget arriving at the train station in Guangzhou and staring blankly at the characters on the train schedule. No one around us spoke a word of English and we had no idea where we had to go, at what time and to where. It was an eerie feeling.
Then there was the torturous experience trying to explain to the server on the train that I was vegetarian. Thankfully, a Chinese speaking American swooped to my rescue.
Learning a foreign language can have so many benefits apart from being fun.
Italki online language school
We’ve been asked to share with you an online language service called Italki where you can find the best language teachers from around the world.
We don’t have the time to trial run it ourselves and I was going to say no as we do like to speak from personal experience on the blog.
But, on further research, I felt Italki was a service many of you could potentially benefit from so wanted to share it. I read a ton of good reviews on it, including one by the very credible Benny from Fluent in Three Months.
If you don’t know Benny, he can speak seven languages fluently and learns them quickly. He uses Italki and found it one of the best systems online for learning a new language.
Italki is the leader in online language education with over 1.5 million students and 4,000+ teachers of 100 languages.
As a user of Italki, you have private language lessons with pre-screened and approved native teachers, who are all certified in language education.
You create a user profile on Italki and use ITC credit to spend on the lessons, which are usually done over Skype. So you can take these classes from wherever you are as long as there is an internet connection and book them for a time that suits your schedule.
This flexibility is so useful for travelers, and those who have erratic schedules.
It’s up to you and your foreign language learning needs as to how many lessons you’ll schedule with your teacher. You can use multiple teachers and are under no obligation to stick with just one. This is super handy in case you struggle to build a rapport with a certain teacher.
In traditional schools you don’t have a choice, and from my teaching experience, rapport is a large part of an effective learning experience. Teachers are ranked by student feedback, which is helpful when choosing a teacher for yourself.
These are one-on-one lessons as well, which is the fastest way to learn anything.
I always knew from my own personal teaching experience how much valuable teaching time was wasted each day on classroom management. It has become even more a glaring reality for me home-schooling Kalyra these past 17 months.
We only do lessons for 1-2 hours a day and Kalyra is punching above her grade with her school work. Individualized instruction will give you maximum growth!
I like how you are NOT locked into a set term or structure, so if you just wanted to take a few classes to brush up on your language skills before traveling in a foreign country, this is a pretty cheap, flexible and efficient way to do it.
There is no up-front investment for a course or product, students pay for the teacher’s time on an hourly basis. Most class prices are lower than online or offline schools or educational products.
Become a teacher
What also sparked me as being of interest for you, is the opportunity for people to make some extra money with Italki. If you are a certified language teacher yourself, you could start your own teacher profile on Italki and give a few lessons to earn some money.
Perfect for the digital nomad and saves wandering the streets knocking on the doors of language schools for jobs (been there done that!)
I really like the sound of Italki.
I love how flexible it is and how you can use it even if you just want a couple of lessons to brush up on a few skills. You won’t have to fear about eating pork instead of potatoes again.
Check it out and let me know what you think!